February 29th, 2008
03:59 PM ET
12 years ago

Blitzer: Can Obama withstand GOP assault?

 Obama would face a tough general election race.

Obama would face a tough general election race.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama doesn't even have the Democratic nomination, and yet questions are already swirling over whether he could withstand the fierce assault he certainly would face from the Republicans in a general election. Whatever criticism he confronted during the Democratic primaries would likely be child’s play compared to what’s coming up.

That fear was reinforced by the front-page story in The New York Times entitled “For Obama, Taste of What a Long Battle Holds.” Adam Nagourney writes that Republican “opposition research” is gearing up for a battle against Obama. The suggestion is that they will use material from Obama’s past that Hillary Clinton and the other Democratic candidates avoided.

“Some cases are simple let’s-go-to-the-video moments, like Mr. Obama’s statements that he would support giving drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens or would support raising taxes to shore up Social Security, lines of attack that Republicans are already employing,” Nagourney writes. Other material could be more explosive.

“He regularly goes out there and says he’s the person who can beat John McCain,” chief Clinton strategist Mark Penn is quoted as saying. “But the truth is, if he is ever in a general election, a lot of positions he took in 2003 and 2004 will come back to haunt him in a big way and a lot of the vetting that didn’t happen will happen. The independent and Republican support that he has had will evaporate really quickly.”

Clinton's camp is convinced that she could withstand a Republican assault in a general election campaign better than Obama. They have often pointed out that she has a lot more experience in this area – given the battles she’s faced over the years. Her supporters are especially anxious right now that voters in Texas and Ohio appreciate what could be in store for Obama before making up their minds. And that’s the case for the Superdelegates as well.

- Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. Cris in Texas

    NO his is TOAST.....

    February 29, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  2. Krissy

    Obama has been like Teflon to all of their attacks.

    February 29, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  3. Jesse - San Antonio TX


    If he wins the Democratic Nominee, he won't choose Clinton as a VP.

    And he will loose.

    February 29, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  4. Fundamental Question

    Change Question: What has Obama done while in Senate to bring the Democrats and Republicans together? You don't get a magic wond when you become President.

    February 29, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  5. Edd

    I do no think so. HE IS JUST AN AMATEUR, who just voted "Present" in almost all of the hearings in Senate. If he wins the nominations, Mc Cain will just eat him alive, that is why I will support HILLARY! At least we have a better fight!

    February 29, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  6. O.M.

    I do not think Hillary is taking notes yet. She seems to be oblivious to her suroundings. She will go down in history as a respected national figure if she concedes before 3/4/08. My guess is that she wants to be a president not a respected persona.

    February 29, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  7. ME

    NO.......plain and spimple.........

    February 29, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  8. adams

    Good point Wolf,
    Obama does'nt have a snow balls chance in hell to beat McCain.
    Obama continues to be a threat to national maturity.
    Vote Hillary. Vote to win back our dear white house.
    Vote to win think!

    February 29, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  9. lalia henna

    i hate CNN and you sir
    go hillary

    February 29, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  10. Liza

    No, he cannot.

    February 29, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  11. kdk

    I'm sorry, was that news or a piece of propaganda from the Hillary camp?

    February 29, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  12. Lisa in Cincy


    February 29, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. spirit of america

    There is nothing the GOP would want more than for the Dems to nominate Obama, who cannot and will not win the general election. If he's the candidate, the Democratic Party will have succeeded in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Hillary is the only real hope.

    February 29, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. Jim


    As a moderate who will vote for McCain in the General this election term, only the Democrats will be fools enough to nominate a Senator with 2 years of experience. I vote for Obama in New Hampshire simply so that I can vote for McCain in the general election. Hook, line and sinker. I'm glad we will stay in Iraq to get the work done that was already started – I will simply not for a president for a cut and run policy – irrelevant of the fact we went there on the wrong reasons. We inherited the problem, and need to fix it.

    February 29, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  15. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    GOP should have more concern for John McCain, there is a lot of positions that will come back to haunt him in a big way. Obama has the sharpness and intelligence to withstand any attack and Obama supporters have his back.

    February 29, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. AVM

    After dealing with Hillary and Bill, who use only Republican tactics, Obama can withstand anything. And I hope after Obama wins the nomination he will not let Hillary near him. She is a Republican who pretends to be a Democrat. Just like Bill.

    February 29, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  17. sam

    Well, finally a sensible analysis of Senator Obama's chances in a national election. Maybe you guys should have been discussing some of these areas of weakness in his record instead of worshipping the ground that he walks on. Every time Senator Clinton has tried to raise anything about him as a candidate, the press has attacked her. I never thought that the Republicans were going to let him walk into the White House on a red carpet the way that the press has tried to hand the nomination to him. The question is, have you made sure that it is too late for the Democrats to have the real candidate who can run against the Republicans or can Senator Clinton get the nomination in spite of you? Shame on the press for failing to examine the records of the candidates in the Democratic nomination race and falling for the lofty words of someone who has done essentially nothing constructive.

    February 29, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  18. Mike

    How is it that Obama's past positions on issues will hurt him and Hillary's won't hurt her? She herself was caught in the drivers licenses for illegals contradiction herself. So far, I've been impressed by Obama's direct and well-articulated responses to the attacks by both the Clinton and McCain campaigns.

    February 29, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  19. Mark

    The Republicans will make sure all the skeletons wil fall out of Obama's closet. Centrist and Conservative Democrats will jump the Obama ship for more secure footing with McCain.

    February 29, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. James

    Obama is very ready for the republicans. He is a very strong man. If he can survive attacks from Hillary, he can face any other person out there.

    February 29, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. Michael Mee

    Well gee, who better to quote about Obamas chances than a Clinton campaigner 🙂

    February 29, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  22. Charlotte

    He's crying about Hillary, he ain't seen nothing yet. By the way, Obama did not vote for the war in Iraq.

    February 29, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  23. George A

    Frankly, I doubt he can. He has similar positions with Hillary and hence is doing well. That will not be the case in the generail election. Against John Mccain, he does not stand a chance.

    February 29, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |

    I have to agree that Obama would be chopped liver for Republicans.
    I don't understand why Hillary hasn't chewed him up yet.
    Republicans can see thru Obamas empty words.

    February 29, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. Eye Opener

    Well put, Mr. Blitzer.
    I guess at the end of the day, this is where "Experience" really counts, not so much in the handling of issues but the ability to withstand republican attacks and win.

    February 29, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
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